When the cogs stopped grinding at Eishkom a few weeks back, it was a case of déjà vu.
No, I am not referring to the country’s economy coming to a complete standstill or having to plan your entire day around a load-shedding schedule.
AUTHOR: Gerard Peter: First published in the Mining Review Africa newsletter dated 2019/03/05
I’m referring to those energy experts who once again posited from the dark that this country is too reliant on coal.
In the words of former State Prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, I put it to you: Why shouldn’t we be?
Here’s the thing. South Africa has enough coal reserves to last more than a century.
Coal has been a key driver in the rapid industrialisation of countries – countries that didn’t even have enough of their own reserves.
So why are we looking our gift horse in the mouth?
South Africa is in dire need of reigniting its economy. In order to do this we need to ensure that the lights stay on.
So, why not use our abundant coal resources to drive our post #state-capture recovery?
Now, before the tree-huggers threaten to lynch mob Mining Review Africa Towers, let me say I am fully aware of the harmful impact that coal has on the environment.
But, as new South African Coal Processing Society chairperson, Devraj Reddy, points out: coal is not the issue – it’s the carbon dioxide emitted from burning it that is.
Correctly, he also points out, that there are methodologies, such as Carbon Capture and Storage, which can reduce this impact.
So, while we invest heavily in creating a Utopian world where renewables power our nation, why not also invest more in ensuring that coal is less harmful on our environment?
Why not also invest more in educating the nation about why we should be taking advantage of our abundant reserves?
Coal is still vital to powering our economy, at least for the next hundred years.